The world celebrates a second New Year under the shadow of Covid

The world is celebrating a second year under the shadow of the New Year Covid /></p><p> MISE & Agrave; DAY</p><p> <strong> SYDNEY | Celebrations canceled or severely restricted, music prohibited, New Years Eve limited to the family “bubble”: the world is preparing to begin a third year of pandemic in 2022, while contaminations are exploding but timid signs of hope appear. </strong></p><p>The past twelve months have seen the arrival of a new American president, dreams of democracy fade from Afghanistan to Burma to Hong Kong or Russia, and the first Olympics without spectators.</P ></p><p> But it is the pandemic that has once again ruled the daily lives of most of humanity. More than 5.4 million people have died since the virus was first identified in China in December 2019.</p><p> Countless more have been infected, subjected to lockdowns, blankets -fire and a variety of tests.</p><p>The emergence of the particularly contagious Omicron variant at the end of 2021 pushed the 1 million daily cases of coronavirus to the top for the first time, according to an AFP count.</p><p> The France in turn announced Thursday evening that Omicron was now in the majority on its territory, after a meteoric increase in recent days.</p><p> <strong> “Focus on the positive” </strong></p ><p>Britain, the United States and even Australia, which had long been immune from the pandemic, are breaking records of new cases.</p><p> Vaccine distribution at around 60% of the world population nevertheless gives a glimpse of hope, although some poor countries still have only limited access and a section of the population remains reluctant.</p><p> The Kiribati Islands, in the Pacific, were the first to celebrate the New Year starting at 10 a.m. GMT.</p><p>But from Seoul to Paris or San Francisco, New Years celebrations have again been canceled or reduced.</p><p> In Sydney, the city that usually boasts of being the 'New Years Capital of the World', the Crowds were unusually small in the harbor to witness the traditional fireworks display.</p><p> Only tens of thousands of spectators were there, with the event usually gathering over a million people.</p><p>“I'm just trying to focus on the positive things that happened this year rather than the negatives,” said Melinda Howard, a 22-year-old medical student who waited outside the Opera House for the show to start.</p><p> The celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, which usually bring together three million people on Copacabana Beach, are also maintained.</p><p> <strong> “Celebrate life” </strong></p><p> As in Times Square in New York, official events will be reduced, but large crowds are still expected.</p><p>“People only want one thing, to get out of their homes, to celebrate life after a pandemic that has forced everyone to lock themselves up,” said Francisco Rodrigues, 45, a server at Copacabana.</p><p> Some Brazilians are more dubious, in a country where the pandemic has killed nearly 619,000 people, the worst death toll in the world after that of the United States.</p><p> The Tunisian government has for its part announced at the last moment the cancellation of the festivities in Tunis “in view of the development of the epidemic situation”.</p><p>In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is still planning a fireworks display at Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world with its 828 meters, and the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah will once again try to break the world record for the largest fire in the world. 'artifice.</p><script async=

In South Africa, the first country to report the new variant at the end of November, the nighttime curfew in effect for 21 months and which had been reduced to times between midnight and 4 a.m. was lifted on the eve of the celebrations. for the new Year. Wearing a mask remains compulsory in public spaces, however, and gatherings remain limited (1,000 people outside, 2,000 inside).

“Tsunami of cases”

During the past year, many countries, especially in the West, have hesitated to reinstate the drastic measures of 2020, in order to avoid another economic recession. But 2021 nonetheless saw an increase in protests against the restrictions in Europe and beyond, while a minority still hesitated to be vaccinated, raising fears about how the pandemic could end without the spread of disease. vaccination rate.

Experts hope that the year 2022 will mark a new, less deadly phase of the pandemic. But the World Health Organization is predicting tough months ahead.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he feared “that Omicron, more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, will cause a tsunami of cases” and “immense pressure on exhausted caregivers and health systems in the world. on the verge of collapse. ”

The year 2021 also ends with a rise in geopolitical tensions, including in Europe with the threat of Russian intervention in Ukraine.

“We have firmly and constantly defended our national interests, the security of our country and our citizens,” said President Vladimir Putin in his televised greetings, already broadcast in the far east of the country, more than 20 years later. 'be delivered for the first time to the exercise.

He mentioned the Covid epidemic, without citing the figure of more than 600,000 deaths established the day before by the national statistics agency – two times more than the figure communicated by the government – which places the country among the most wounded in the world.

Finally, the announcement in the United Kingdom, with more than 15 degrees Celsius recorded in the north- The hottest New Year's Eve on record in the country was a reminder of another concern of 2021, which will persist into the new year: climate change.

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